How to Respond to Guest Reviews: A Hotelier’s In-Depth Guide

Your complete guide on how to respond to positive, neutral, and negative guest reviews with examples, a template response structure, and lots of data.

Why Respond to Guest Reviews?

How many guests choose to stay at your property based on the reviews they read on Google, TripAdvisor, or Booking.com? 

Nowadays, we can’t imagine making a buying or booking decision before reading reviews, watching an expert opinion on YouTube, or just researching more about the product or service we are interested in.  

For the hospitality industry, reviews are essential from the booking process to the post-stay survey. “Where should I stay?” and “Why should I stay there?” are usually the questions that come to mind after choosing the travel destination.

A TrustYou study shows that a crashing majority of us - more than 9 out of 10 people - read travel reviews prior to booking. 

A woman looking at a mobile phone.

69% of leisure travelers and 72% of business travelers rated reviews and consumer opinions posted online as extremely important in their booking decision when choosing a hotel.

We believe that responding to guest reviews is what differentiates a hotel that is truly focused on its customers from an average one. Being responsive to guest feedback comes with many benefits for hotels. Here are some examples:

  • Your chances of influencing a booking decision increase. 

Our own data shows that replying to more reviews has a positive impact on direct bookings and revenue. Google has also confirmed that responding to reviews improves your business’s local SEO, making you more visible to staycationers or those looking to host an event at your property.

  • You increase the chances of your guests booking a return stay.
  • You prove to your guests that their experience and well-being are important to you.
  • You receive more reviews, therefore, collecting data helps your staff and potential guests have an accurate overview of how you are perceived externally and what you have to offer.

12 %

Hotels that are responding to guest reviews receive 12% more reviews and their ratings increase by an average of 0.12 stars on a 1-to-5 scale.

Our research shows that on average, 4 out of 10 reviews receive a reply. This is based on the reviews that can be responded to, excluding all sources that do not allow for responses. When looking at the data we noticed that some of the reviews received a reply even a couple of months after they were published. This is another way of differentiating yourself from your competitors - by replying promptly to your guest reviews. 

A graph looking at the evolution of the guest review response rate, starting from January 2019 to May 2022.
Over the last few years, we see a gradual increase in response rate, from an average of 37% in 2019 to 43% for the first 5 months of 2022.

Things to Consider When Responding to Guest Reviews 

You just received a new review from one of your guests. Now what? How do you make sure that you’re crafting your answer in a way that benefits your hotel and also your guest? Here are some important tips to keep in mind when responding to reviews:

  • Be kind, professional, and genuine
  • Respond as soon as possible
  • Personalize your response whenever possible
  • Thank the guest for their feedback
  • Whether it is a greeting, or you go the extra mile and answer to your reviews in a different language, make sure your international guests feel special. Use some key phrases in their own language if possible.
  • Give credit to the staff, especially if someone is specifically mentioned
  • Be creative and find different ways to express yourself
  • Invite the guest back for another visit

We’ve also created an easy-to-follow response structure to guest reviews: 

Open with a personal thank you

No matter what type of review you are faced with - positive, neutral, or negative -  thank your guests for taking the time to offer feedback.

Acknowledge and address 

Your team is what keeps the engines running in your hotel. Show that you care and value your staff by simply mentioning in your response that you will pass on any praise that is directed to them.

When addressing issues, start by offering apologies to your guests and ensuring that you will work on addressing their complaints. Offer details, where needed, on the circumstances that led to a malfunction or an issue. 

Invite the guest back 

Show your excitement and tell your guests that you would be more than happy to have them back on another visit. Everyone likes to feel welcome!

Also, don’t forget to sign using your name - this is a great way to show your guests that behind the response is actually a real person. 

4 easy-to-implement strategies to get more guest reviews

Prioritize Your Response: What Reviews Should You Reply to and When

Congratulations! Now you know all the important things to take into consideration when responding to reviews. We will go into more details about when, and in what order, you should respond to your reviews. We’ve got you covered!

The more reviews you reply to, the better. To make things easier, we created a predefined tile in our platform for Response Rate,  and you can see at a glance how your hotel’s Response Rate is evaluated - good, medium, or low. 

A snip showing how Hotels' Review Response Rate is evaluated in our platform: Good is 30% and more, Medium is 15%-30%, and Low is 15% and below.
Good is 30% and more, Medium is 15%-30%, and Low is 15% and below

While you may find it challenging to respond to all reviews as soon as possible, our platform can help you to get a quick and clear overview of the Response Rate KPIs and prioritize the responses that are the most crucial.

Be sure to also look at your competitors’ response rate. Try to stay ahead of them, both in terms of the number of replies and their quality. Check Section: How TrustYou Can Help to learn how to see the response rate of your competitors using the TrustYou Comp Index.

What about timing? Keep it simple - try your best and respond to your guest reviews as soon as possible. There isn’t a standard timeframe for this, but ideally, you should provide a response in the first 48 hours after you have received the guest review. 

Having this in mind, you should prioritize your answers in the following order: 

Most recent reviews

A 2 or 3-year-old review may not be as relevant as the one you received yesterday. Focus on your most recent reviews to have a more accurate overview of where you are and what your guests are saying about your property. 

Reported issues

If your guests flagged any issues, make sure you address them in your answers and solve them in real life as well. 

Negative reviews

Travelers appreciate it when hotels respond to negative reviews. Therefore, this is an easy way to prioritize responses by looking at ratings from lowest to highest.

Neutral reviews

Whether the feedback includes a mix of positive and negative experiences or just points out an average stay, make sure to address it and ask for more details to see how you can improve. 

Positive reviews

Replying to positive feedback may increase the chances of those guests returning and recommending your hotel to others.

One thing to consider when prioritizing the response is the source which the review comes from. Focus first on the sources with the highest review volumes, as these will have more visibility for consumers searching for a hotel.

[Infograph] Why and How to Respond to Your Guest Reviews

[Infographic] Why & How to Respond to Your Guest Reviews

The essentials of responding to your guest feedback, now condensed in a visual-friendly format.

Respond to Negative Reviews: 6 Examples

Answering positive reviews seems less complicated than dealing with negative ones. You may be inclined to leave negative feedback unanswered. By properly addressing the issues your guests had, you can convert an unsatisfied guest into a returning one and actively show that you care about improving your guest experience. 

Research shows that consumers think more highly of a hotel responding to its negative feedback than a hotel solely replying to its positive feedback.

Here are some Do’s and Don’ts, including examples of negative reviews and responses from Google and our platform. These are actual guest reviews and responses collected by TrustYou but have been edited for readability and privacy purposes.

Do’s

  1. Acknowledge the problem and offer solutions. Make sure that the guest feels welcome to return and have a better experience.  

An example of 1-star guest review: *Terrible! You check yourself in, a very expensive bar, and staff that barely says hello. Everything in the room works with the tablet, but the tablet doesn't work. Hotel’s response: Hello recent guest, Thank you for taking the time to write to us. First of all our sincerest apologies for the inconvenience you experienced. We always strive to give the best service to our guests and we are sorry that we did not meet your expectations. We will make sure we share the feedback with our staff to ensure it does not happen again. We hope to see you again soon to change your expectations.
Apologizing and taking action shows that you care about your guests and about improving your service.
  1. Ask for more details if the feedback is unclear or if it doesn’t specify the issue.  
An example of a 1-star Negative Guest Review.
When the guest doesn't offer much information, make sure to ask for more details.

  1. Explain the inconveniences and malfunctions flagged by your guests in the review.  

Make sure to address the issues included in the reviews and, whenever possible, explain why this issue was happening. 

An example of a 3-star negative guest review: The staff here was incredible but the rooms, although clean and modern, are tiny, loud, and had a non-functional air conditioning. The showers and overall bathroom design are poor. Hotel’s response: Dear X, Thank you for staying at Hotel Z and for taking the time to share your experience with us. We are delighted to know that you appreciated the service level of our teams. I am sorry to hear that your accomodation did not meet your expectations. I agree the rooms are cozy and our AC was malfunctioning during the dates of your stay. We have since installed a new unit to remedy this issue. My apologies for this inconvenience. . We hope to have the chance to welcome you again. Sincerely, Hotel Manager
Address the issues your guests flag in the reviews. In your review response, assure your guests that you are working on or already solved the issues.

Don’ts

  1. Avoid using templates when responding to negative guest reviews. 

Templates may give the impression that the response isn’t personalized or that you are responding to tick a box rather than listening to your guests’ issues. If you can’t personally respond to each review, do the best that you can to customize templates to respond to common issues (e.g. WiFi speed or parking fees) and dissatisfactions expressed by your guests. 

An example of 1 star negative guest review.
Don't limit yourself to a template or standardized response - especially when your guests have flagged specific issues in their reviews.
  1. Don’t ask additional questions without addressing the issues themselves. 

It will look like you’re ignoring the problem. Also, make sure you format the text before sending it. 

An example of 1-star negative guest review: The guys working at the hotel are very nice, but the boss is a bad person (only interested in money). The prices are very high. This is the worst room we had during our trip. There was a mouse under the bed, and it was also the most expensive room we found in town. Hotel’s response: WHAT DATE DID YOU STAY HERE..// WHAT WAS YOUR ROOM NUMBER..??
A review response is an occasion to make things right - apologize and offer solutions to the issues mentioned by your guests.
  1. Don’t air your dirty laundry in public. 

When you reply to a guest's review, flagging an issue by insulting him/her and offering additional arguments shows disrespect. If there are any issues your guests created that are not mentioned in the review, invite them respectfully to discuss everything via a private conversation.

An example of a 1-star negative guest review.
The best way to approach sensitive cases is by inviting your guests to a private conversation.
How To Respond To Negative Reviews

Your Guide to Replying to Negative Reviews

This guide provides hoteliers with an easy-to-follow structure with examples of negative reviews and responses. It also includes suggestions on how to make your response strategy more effective with the TrustYou platform.

Respond to Neutral Reviews: 4 Examples

Neutral reviews include a mixed bag of feedback that when analyzed, can neither be considered as not having a strong positive nor negative note. In our Guest Experience Platform, neutral reviews are defined based on (1) the review score  - anything scoring from 41 to 60 points on a scale up to 100 and (2) sentiment score - anything scoring 51 to 70 on the same scale.

Responding to neutral reviews can be trickier than addressing positive or negative feedback. The information your guests provided can often be unclear. What does an average guest experience mean to them? How can you improve that? When replying, make sure to address the good, the bad, and the average from a neutral review. 

Here are some Do’s and Don’ts, including examples of neutral reviews and responses from Google and our platform. These are actual guest reviews and responses collected by TrustYou but have been edited for readability and privacy purposes.

Dos

  1. Ask for more details on why your guests evaluated the stay as average. 

Make sure to emphasize that you aim at delivering a better experience. 

An example of a 3-star neutral guest review: Stayed here for 2 nights. Experience was average. It seems to me that [Hotel Name] is purely focused on maintaining its stylish image rather than providing a comfortable and enjoyable stay. Hotel’s response: Dear X, I am Y – Assistant Front Desk Manager from [Hotel Name]. Thank you for taking the time to leave your feedback from the survey. I would like to extend my apologies that your recent stay did not meet your expectations. It is important to me that every guest has an enjoyable and comfortable stay. I hesitate to ask for more of your time but more detailed feedback would be valuable for us to make improvements among our staff if that’s where the issue was. . We would be also happy to discuss on a call if that would be more convenient for you. Thank you and I look forward to your reply Best regards,
Go the extra mile - see exactly what made your guests rate their stay as average.
  1. Address any other issues that the guest has flagged during their stay, but not in their review. 

This shows extra attention to detail. When possible, offer vouchers to convince guests to return.

An example of a 2-star neutral guest review: Average stay. Mixed service. Hotel’s response: Dear X., Thank you for taking the time to share your feedback. I would like to apologize that the communication about the kitchen situation never reached you before your arrival. I would very much like to have you back with us in the near future and am extending a $100 food and beverage credit to use during your next stay with us. We hope to welcome you back to our hotel very soon! Please let us know if we can be of any assistance in the meantime. Sincerely, Y
If you're aware of issues that haven't been mentioned in the review, address them as well.

Don’ts

  1. Don’t use a standardized response. 

Try to get more information from your guests. Ask them how you can serve them better next time or what areas can be improved.

An example of a 3-star neutral guest review: Basic accommodation. Friendly. Hotel’s response: Thank you for your review. We appreciate your business.
Ask your guests why they rated the accommodation as basic and what can be improved.
  1. Don’t rush into giving quick replies. 

Rushing into giving quick replies to your reviews may not pay off. Treat each review as a way to learn what you can improve, and make sure to let your guest know that you are working on the issues they flagged.

An example of a 3 stars neutral guest review: The room was nice but tinier than expected. The internet was a bit slow. The service was alright Hotel’s response: all right, thank you
Treat reviews and responses as a way of improving your services.

Respond to Positive Reviews: 6 Examples

How are you treating your cheerleaders? Guests that leave positive reviews are voluntarily choosing to go that extra mile. It’s their way of saying “thank you” for how you treated them during their stay. You should definitely not see this as a chore, but as more of a way to show how much you appreciate that your efforts have been praised and recognized. 

Here are some Do’s and Don’ts, including examples of positive reviews and responses from Google and our platform. These are actual guest reviews and responses collected by TrustYou but have been edited for readability and privacy purposes.

Do’s

  1. Show that you have great customer service before, during, and after your guests’ stay.

Thank your guests for leaving a review even before they are your customers. It's rare to receive a positive review prior to the actual stay, but as you can see in the example below, the hotel owner took their time to respond and expressed their gratitude in a friendly and welcoming manner.

An example of a positive 5-stars guest review: We are actually booked for an upcoming trip over here. After having done a lot of research, we finally decided to select this hotel based on reviews, locations, and highly recommended chef! We wrote to them for reservations ahead of the trip and they are already helping us. Excited to visit now and check the hotel out 😄 Hotel’s response: Dear X, this is actually the first review we have ever received from guests prior to arrival. We are very grateful and hope we live up to the expectations and our good name! We look forward to welcoming you! Warm regards, X
It's a very rare thing to receive a pre-stay review. The expectations are already high - keep that standard up!
  1. Acknowledge staff when possible.

Let your guests know that you will pass on their positive impressions about your team. 

Showing that you value and care about your staff makes a positive impact on your online reputation, and can also increase employee engagement in times when hiring and retaining staff is a constant challenge for the industry.

An example of a positive 5-star guest review: Excellent resort to explore and enjoy. The massive development of the property, as well as, its high level of maintenance is truly amazing. Armed with human assets of high caliber in providing exceptional quality service, there's always a positive outlook on the fast recovery of tourism industry on this part of the island. Hotel’s response Hi, X! We are delighted to read your feedback. The team will be thrilled to hear these kind words. It's truly our pleasure to be of service to all of you. The entire team will be looking forward to welcoming you back to the island. [Hotel Name] Team
Let your team know that their efforts have made a difference
  1. Invite the guest back to the hotel.

Be friendly and tell your guests that you would be more than happy to have them back on another visit.

An example of a positive 5-star guest review: Words do not describe the beauty of this place. From the breathtaking views and picture perfect sunsets, this was truly a beautiful place to stay while in XYZ. The staff and service was 10/10! Everyone was so friendly and always made sure that my wife and I had everything we needed. It made us feel like we were right at home! We didn’t want to leave, but will definitely be coming back! Hotel’s response Thank you so much for this lovely review - you are now part of [Hotel Name] story, we hope you visit us again soon! Warmest wishes, X
Make the guest feel welcome in case she or he decides to stay the second time with you.

Don’ts

  1. Don’t start your response without thanking the guest. 

It doesn't cost you anything to start your response with a “thank you.” Go on and show some gratitude! It is one of the nicest ways to show your respect to the guest for taking the time to offer feedback.

An example of a positive 5-star review: Due to the early morning flight, I thought I would only take the standard room to save a bit even though we were traveling with kids.. Got upgraded to a triple room to our surprise. Thank you. Hotel’s response Kids are always welcome and free if under 12 and sharing a room.
Always thank the guest for their appreciation.
  1. Don’t use generic responses. 

Take your time to personalize your response. You don’t have to overdo it, but at least use their name, and don’t forget to wrap up by signing your name too. It creates a personal connection with your guests and this will likely result in them returning to your hotel.  

An example of a positive 5-star guest review: Nice & clean. We got in around midnight and the clerk was very nice! Thank you very much! Hotel’s response Thank you very much
Customize your response by using your guests' names, inviting them back, and signing the response.
  1. Don’t ignore the positive reviews. 

Did you know that positive reviews encourage 68% of consumers to use a local business? 

Responding to positive guest reviews is not only a way of showing your guests that their experience and well-being is highly valued by your management, but it can also encourage future guests to book at your property.

An example of a positive 5-star guest review. We stayed at the [Hotel Name] for our honeymoon. The place was beyond beautiful, the food was incredible, & the service was amazing. We had dinner at the restaurant on our last night & it was the best meal we had the entire trip! To top it off, the service was even better. XX & ZZ were the best waiters - so nice & professional. Will definitely be coming back for our anniversary!! Hotel’s response No response from the hotel.
Respond to as many reviews as possible.
Replying to positive feedback may not be your number one priority, but we encourage you to take your time and respond as much as you can to your guests’ praises. By saying a genuine thank you, you may turn a one-time satisfied customer into a returning, delighted guest.

Your Guide to Replying to Positive Reviews

Replying to positive feedback may not be your number one priority, but we encourage you to take your time and respond as much as you can to your guests’ praises. By saying a genuine thank you, you may turn a one-time satisfied customer into a returning, delighted guest.

Google, Booking.com, TripAdvisor - Guides & Policies to Follow When Responding to Reviews

Google

Google allows the option to reply directly to reviews from Google Search and Google Maps.

While Google doesn’t have strict regulations, there are some best practices they recommend for responding to reviews. Mostly, they relate to writing a helpful reply and also to providing advice on how to respond to negative feedback. Although it’s not presented as a rule, they suggest not to offer incentives or discounts when replying to reviews. Find their tips here

If you just created a business account on Google - make sure to verify it - otherwise, you  won’t be able to respond. 

Booking.com

You can respond to your Booking.com reviews with comments. Booking.com allows you to reply either in the language of the review, or in English. If you choose to reply in another language, your response won’t be shown or translated. 

Booking.com has guidelines you need to follow for your response to be displayed. Here are some important things to consider when responding to Booking.com reviews:

  • Don’t mention your website
  • Don’t mention the website of a Booking.com’s competitor
  • Don’t imply that the review is fake
  • Don’t offer incentives or discounts for your guests
  • Don’t encourage the guest to return through a direct booking
  • Avoid using personal information. A response including your guest’s last name, contact info or any other personal information won’t be allowed.

The full Booking.com Guidelines and Best Practices for responding to your reviews are available here.

TripAdvisor

As a business representative of your TripAdvisor account, you can craft a single reply to a review, which the platform calls the Management Response. 

It takes up to 48 hours for the replies to be approved by TripAdvisor. TripAdvisor also has Response Guidelines. Here’s what you need to pay attention to: 

  • Don’t include any promotional or commercial content
  • Don’t insert links in your response 
  • Avoid using lists, bullets, HTML tags, ALL CAPS, symbols, or other formatting options that make the text difficult to read
  • Avoid using machine translated content
  • Don’t mention any personal information that would help identify your guests

Check the complete guidelines here and make sure to have a look at the Content & Community Guidelines as well.

How TrustYou Can Help

At TrustYou, we help hoteliers win with the Power to Listen. Here are 3 ways you can collect, manage, and analyze your feedback with the help of our platform: 

Collect Feedback Using TrustYou Survey Solutions

TrustYou Live Survey

Live Survey provides real-time feedback while guests are still in-house. Guests can fill out a brief questionnaire about their experience and hoteliers can immediately take action on any questions, complaints, or requests while having the opportunity to communicate with them in real-time throughout the process. Resolving guest issues to their satisfaction while they’re still onsite will in turn prevent them from leaving a negative post-stay review on a public OTA. 

A screenshot from our TrustYou platform showing how you can interact with your guests using our Live Survey Solution.
Solve issues on the go and prevent negative feedback using TrustYou Live Survey Solution.

TrustYou Post-Stay Survey

Post-Stay feedback is an imperative part of the guest journey. This is where hoteliers get the full picture of their guests’ experiences - what went well, what went wrong, and what can be done about it. TrustYou Survey empowers you to ask the right questions, align it with your branding, customize invitations to ensure a personal touch, and provide detailed, actionable insights based on the feedback you receive. One guest’s complaint can be turned into another guest’s praise! 

A sample of a Post-Stay Survey review.
A sample of a Post-Stay Survey review.

Respond to Google and Booking.com Reviews Using Our Guest Experience Platform 

TrustYou also offers Direct Response for Google and Booking.com, two of the largest online review sources in the world, so that you never have to leave the platform. 
Reply directly to Google and Booking.com reviews using our platform integrations.

Responding to guest reviews shouldn’t be challenging and TrustYou has the resources to streamline the process. Tired of typing the same responses over and over?  Utilize our Response Templates to streamline the response process, while still leaving room for personal touches to each guest. Confused about which reviews you still need to respond to? The Reviews Inbox allows you to filter reviews by status to easily track your progress. TrustYou also offers Direct Response for Google and Booking.com, two of the largest online review sources in the world, so that you never have to leave the platform. 

A snip from our platform showing how you can respond to guest reviews using customized text or template of your own.
In our platform, you have the option to respond directly to Google, Booking.com, and other OTA reviews with a customized text or template of your own.

Measure Yourself Against the Competition Using TrustYou Comp Index

The TrustYou Comp Index enables hoteliers to choose specific KPIs that are of high value to their business and compare them to their competitors.

One KPI to keep a close eye on is response rate, as a guest is 62% more likely to book with a hotel that has genuine responses to guest reviews than one that does not. Plus, responding to reviews can lead to an increase in Performance Score. That’s why it’s interesting to compare this KPI to other hotels and in relation to the above-mentioned KPIs. Response rate reports can be split by source, language, and star rating. 

The TrustYou Comp Index enables hoteliers to choose specific KPIs that are of high value to their business and compare them to their competitors. In this snip, you see 6 competitors you can measure yourself against, by looking at KPIs such as performance score, number of reviews and responses.
 Measure yourself against your competitors using our Comp Index and see where you stand in terms of your response rate.

Go Beyond Response Rate to Improve Online Reputation

Responding properly to your guests’ feedback is not enough if you want to improve your service, quality, and your online reputation overall. Make sure you truly listen to your guests’ needs. Fix the issues reported by your guests together with your staff. Treat feedback as a data set that can help to continuously improve your guest experience and amenities.

Analyzing feedback may be overwhelming at times. With so many channels where guests can leave their reviews, the process of reading, analyzing, and responding to all feedback may turn into a mission impossible task. Having an all-in-one platform, where you can easily access all reviews in one place, is a must in the new era of travel. 

With our Guest Experience Platform, you can get the most out of the feedback you receive. We analyze each review with the help of semantic analysis to identify categories where you perform well or where you can improve. You also have the option of benchmarking against your competitors. Replying to reviews and making feedback actionable, are now easier and more time-efficient with the help of our solutions.

TrustYou

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